Date: April, 1989
Source: NDSU - T.A.P.E.
Colorful spring-flowering bulbs like tulips and daffodils welcome spring's arrival year after year with just a minimum of care. But some common mistakes in handling bulb plants after they bloom can weaken them and lead to fewer flowers next year.
The most important thing to remember is that leaves must remain on the plants until they turn yellow. While this yellowing foliage isn't attractive, it is a sign that the leaves have manufactured enough food to build a strong bulb for a good flower display next year.
You can hide the unsightly leaves by setting out flowers annuals among the bulb plants mid to late may.
To encourage strong bulb development, fertilize the bed soon after the plants are above ground and again one month later. Pale or undersized leaves usually indicate a need for fertilizer. Apply a light application of 5-10-5 or a similar fertilizer. If in doubt about this need for fertilizer, submit a soil sample for testing.
If you cut the blooms, use a sharp knife. Take only one or two leaves per plant to use with the flowers in an arrangement. Taking more leaves than this weakens the bulbs.
Since seed production takes food away from the developing bulbs, remove old flowers before they produce seed.
A decline in flower size and numbers means that it is time to divide and replant the bulbs. Dig the clumps in spring and replant them right away, or hold the bulbs in a well-ventilated spot until fall. Digging and replanting in fall is often difficult because the plant leaves are gone and it is hard to find the bulbs.
Additional information on tulips, daffodils and other bulbs are found in circular H-992, "Flowering Bulbs For North Dakota."
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